Selma James of Global Women’s Strike in Berkeley April 26, 2015

On Sunday, April 26, 2015 at the St. Paul AME Church in Berkeley, Selma James, Pierre Labossiere and Danny Glover spoke about “UJAMAA: The Hidden Story of Tanzania’s Socialist Villages – to Today’s Black Jacobins in Haiti”.

Nina Lopez and Selma James of Global Women's Strike in Berkeley, April 26, 2015

Nina Lopez and Selma James of Global Women’s Strike in Berkeley, April 26, 2015

Selma James is International Coordinator of the Global Women’s Strike network based in London. GWS takes as its slogan “Invest in Caring not Killing” and calls for a massive shift of national spending away from the military to the care givers, most definitely including women who care for their own family. The idea of a “living wage for mothers and other caregivers” is meant to catalyze a movement for a (non-capitalist) world community to implement social justice across gender and racial lines, peace, and a sustainable economy.

I attended the event in Berkeley in order to find out more about Selma James and the Global Women’s Strike. Her talk was about Tanzania’s Nyerere and the socialist villages he encouraged until they were destroyed by the anti-socialist wing of Tanzania’s government. Under the heading of Ujamaa, community-ism, these democratically run cooperative villages were successful in educating the children, greatly reducing domestic violence and raising living standards.

Selma James had been brought to my attention by Alicia Dorsey, a member of the UNA Gender Crosstalk outreach group. I signed and brought the GWS “Petition to ALL governments for a living wage for mothers and other caregivers” to the UNA San Francisco Board to see the if Board would like to sign on as an organizational supporter. However the Board felt that we needed more information and that perhaps such an idea was not suitable for the UNA.

As I thought over the question, I wondered if a living wage for mothers would not push the birthrate up, thus working against the goal of sustainability. I was able to ask Selma James this question before the panel began and her reply gave me a good idea of what she is about. She told me that it will take a democratic world community to tackle the big issues such as the birth rate. I understood her to mean that the Living Wage for Caregivers campaign is how we can rally the global movement we need, and that any tendency to raise the birthrate would be more than compensated for by the end result. Makes sense to me!

When I presented the petition to the Board, the idea of a “Global Women’s Strike” was enthusiastically received by a number of Board Members. As a result, the Women’s Committee has decided to brainstorm the idea at our next meeting coming up soon.

Having met Selma James in person now, I maintain my support for the petition and would like to see the UNA-SF Board sign on. However, the Board does need to realize that a living wage for mothers is quite a radical notion, and we might get some negative feedback (;-). The panelists at the Berkeley event were vocally very unhappy with the United Nations role in Haiti, and I feel it fair to say that the general feeling was that the UN is not living up to its promise. But that is actually the case, isn’t it? We have lost momentum toward nuclear disarmament, the Paris Climate Change conference is not shaping up, tho we can hope it will, and no one even whispers about general disarmament. So my feeling is that we should look at the living wage for mothers idea on its merits, and support it.

Thanks, all!

— Roger Eaton

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